Tag Archives: Shimano

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review

You have to hand it to Shimano. They’ve developed a long standing tradition for making excellent fishing gear that’s inspired fanaticism among their faithful followers. Earlier this season Shimano retired their Chronarch CI4 baitcaster and moved to the new Shimano Chronarch MGL.

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review
The Shimano Chronarch MGL is a joy to fish with.

Incoming full disclosure: I’m always a sucker when it comes to quality gear. While I’m not currently associated with a rod or reel manufacturer, it does afford me the freedom to play the field seeking great and reasonably priced equipment. What can I say? I like to fish around. So, when I had an opportunity to test out the new Chronarch MGL I leapt at the opportunity. But, will the new Chronarch MGL live up the Shimano name or fall short?

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review – Style and Specifications

I dislike reviews that focus heavily on a rod or reels appearance. Substance over style, I like to say. That being said, as guys, when we go out on a date our first impression is largely based on how the date looks. That’s the attention-getter. The date’s mannerisms largely determine if there’s any staying power. I find that equally true for our equipment. Out of the box the Chronarch MGL looks sexy. Its small aerodynamic profile looks sleek and ready for business. The Chronarch sports a gray casing with very small red to purple accenting flakes. The magnumlite spool and micro adjustment wheel features a no nonsense black finish.

For the gear head in all of us, the Chronarch MGL showcases an eight bearing system, a lighter 14 gram spool to aid in casting, and oversized brass Micro-Module Gearing. The smaller teeth in those gears enable more surface convergence area which, coupled with the aforementioned attributes, means you get a farther reaching cast and experience the patented smooth Shimano retrieve. The Chronarch also features a centrifugal breaking system adjustable from the outside, which ranges in sensitivity from 1 through 6 in sensitivity. External adjustment systems have always been a big deal to me. We’ve all been on the water those days where the wind is swirling. Sometimes you’re fishing with the wind and other times against the wind depending on the hour or minute. I like to have a quick, on the fly, adjustment system that swiftly adapts to those changing conditions.

I spooled up the Chronarch MGL (7.1 gear ratio) with 16lb Sunline fluorocarbon and I was impressed with the amount of line the reel held. Not so much that you felt like you were wasting line buried in the magnumlite spool and not so little that you felt like a wayward tree cast would leave you overly short on casting distance. In my mind, it hit the sweet spot perfectly.

I paired the Chronarch MGL with a Duckett Terex 7’ MH, and later the new Duckett Triad 7’3” MH. This is my main workhorse setup and, suffice it to say, I’ve put the reel through its paces over the last month. The initial setup and adjustment didn’t take long and Shimano includes documentation to help aid you if you’re not familiar with adjusting their reels.

Shimano Chronarch MGL Review – Performance

On the water I was quickly impressed with the Chronarch MGL’s comfort. It palms easily in your hand, even if your paw doesn’t measure up to NBA standards. Another big plus for me is it features an oversized handle.

Performance wise the MGL is a remarkable reel. Its smooth retrieval made it a joy to fish with. I immediately noticed, due to the aforementioned spool and gearing, it casts an impressive distance with a 3/8oz jig. Going from light to heavy in lure weight the MGL handled each challenge like the pro it is. From lightly weighted Senko’s to heavy flutter spoons the MGL pulled off each feat perfectly. Pitching into cover worked flawlessly and the Chronarch MGL delivers power to wench out a fish in heavy cover. I also found after a small quick adjustment I could also easily skip a jig under cover.

When it comes to a baitcaster’s drag some people prefer to forgo it all together. Tighten it down and horse’em out was my motto until I noticed I was ripping large holes in the fishes mouth and the hook would then easily fall out when the fish jumped. This made me re-evaluate my stance on drag. I’m happy to report that the MGL’s drag system is also top notch. It’s easily adjustable on the fly, via the star wheel, and it performed flawlessly. Translation? For me, it’s meant more fish pulled in and fewer rage rants shouted across the water.

The Chronarch MGL’s price point is around $280 to $300. It fills in the gap between very high end and modestly priced reels. Its components and performance left me very impressed, and feeling the price tag is certainly worth it. Matter of fact, I was so impressed that I now have a second to compliment the first.

— Review by Justin Phillips, contributor to Kayak Fishing Focus and tournament kayak angler.


Ask for Shimano at Academy Sports or local fishing tackle shop. In NW Arkansas ask for Shimano at Hook, Line and Sinker or at Southtown Sporting Goods.

NSKA River Road Runner Recap

Predictions prior to this year’s river focused event said that there would be a lot of fish caught, and some big limits turned in. These predictions were mostly correct regarding the Natural State Kayak Angler’s River Road Runner from the weekend. Due to the heavy canoe and tube traffic on some area rivers in June this should be called the “Ya’ll catching anything?” event. For the most part, NSKA fishermen were able to say “Heck, yeah!”

None of the groups of floaters on the river that day looked like this.

In the tournament preview article, Jeff Malott and Sam Philip almost hit big bass on the nose, while Sam was ultimately the closest in predicting the winning length.

On a sunny, breezy, day in June, 26 of 38 (64%) anglers were credited with a limit. Although there were some big fish caught, there weren’t very many.  Only five fish 17″ or larger were caught, by a total of four anglers. Having a good kicker was key to placing near the top in this event.

I was lucky enough to finish 1st for this event with 81.5″, Dwain Batey 2nd with 78.75″ and Jonathan Brewer 3rd with a solid 76.25″ limit. Big Bass was won by John Evans with a 20.25″ largemouth, while I won runner-up Big Bass with a 20″ largemouth.

The Top 10 looked like this:

  1.  Jason Kincy
  2.  Dwain Batey
  3.  Jonathan Brewer
  4.  Jeriamy Vann
  5.  Faron Davidson
  6.  Tim Hotchkin
  7.  Jose Rodriguez
  8.  Roy Roberts
  9.  Josh Sherrill
  10.  John Evans

Angler Recaps

Jason – Not knowing hardly any rivers in the area at all, I went to the Elk River, the one with which I had at least some experience. Started out throwing my favorite baits (topwater) but only caught a few small ones. After switching to a squarebill I caught a 17″ off a log, and was catching some others off wood with a ned rig. One of these bass had a large craw claw (2.75 inches! Who knew they had crawdads that big in the Elk?) in its throat that had a blue/green color to it. This clued me in to what they were feeding on, so at this point I pulled out a YUM worm in blue laminate with a claw-like tail. From that point forward I spent most of the rest of the day dragging that worm slowly around logs and wood.

Another large crawfish claw shows from the throat of my 20″ bass.

My biggest fish, a 20″ largemouth bass came off some submerged brush and when I hooked it I was sure it was a gar or catfish or something because it just would not surface. Once I caught this fish a bit after noon, I knew it might be possible to contend. About 30 minutes before the end of regulation I hooked a 15.25″ to cull a 13″ and was hoping at that point that I had enough to place a top three. Four of my top five fish came from that worm imitating the craw claw, so I was very fortunate to spot that and have a great YUM bait to turn to. The rest of that rig setup was a 3/8 oz Reins slip sinker, Owner all-purpose worm hook, 12lb P-Line CXX Floro, Shimano Curado70 and Dobyns rod.

Dwain – Last year was my first year to fish kayak tournaments and the River Road Runner event last year was by far my worst finish, so this year I really wanted to make a better showing. I had intended to pre-fish some rivers in the year between these events, but never did. So I got on trusty Google Earth and tried to find an area within bounds that looked like it was deep enough to use my pedal drive and might hold larger fish. I settled on an area of the Illinois River in Oklahoma near Watts that looked like it would be a good fit.

I started off the morning throwing a buzz bait, and it paid off quickly with a limit of fish, including my best of the day a 17.75 inch largemouth. I milked the buzz bait bite most of the day, but shortly after catching my best Smallmouth bass of the day on it I discovered an area that I could catch fish on a crankbait. It was an area about 200 yards long that was around 4 or 5 feet deep from the shore out to about 10 feet from the bank, and then also had a flat where the water became shallow between two pools. I first found the fish in the shallow area, and then followed this area up the bank. I was cranking the Skirmish Baits MP7 (a small squarebill), and it was producing both Smallmouth and Spotted Bass. I caught about 10 fish on my first pass, and one of them was a nice Smallmouth that gave me a decent cull. A second pass produced more fish but no culls, so I switched to an M9 squarebill which is a larger profile, and caught a very nice Spotted Bass on the same run with the larger bait. That was my final cull of the day, and I was more than happy to get a 2nd place finish in a river event since 99% of my fishing is on lakes. The area I found happens to be really close to my house, and I’ll probably go back during the year and refine my knowledge of the area, and up my river fishing game.

Jonathan – I chose the Elk River to fish this event this year, and started off fishing a topwater bait.  Caught a limit within the first 30 minutes and two of those I was able to use for my best five. After that they were still busting the topwater but I think they were seeing it too well so I switched to my personal go-to bait on rivers and creeks (the Wiggle Wart). I was able to add three more decent fish to my limit on that bait.  Overall, I couldn’t tell you how many fish I caught – it was a blast.

River Valley – Lee Creek

On the same day as the NWA event, those in the River Valley had an NSKA river event on Lee Creek. I’ve fished there twice now, one time was good, one time was really bad. Looks like they had a tough day out there, with only four of 16 entrants turning in a limit. The winners were:

  1.  Toby Bogart 74. 75″ (Plus Big Bass at 18″)
  2.  Scott Accord 70.25″
  3.  Lloyd Mize 66″

Congrats to these kayak anglers!


Read recent articles: Lake Wilson Fishing, Reins Slip Sinker Review

 

Lake Wilson Fishing

Was doing some Lake Wilson fishing at the local Thursday night yakpot and caught this 5.5 lb largemouth bass on a Rebel Pop-R to win Big Bass for the evening. I was fishing back in the flat where the creeks run in and was throwing a Heddon Zara Spook when this giant blew up on it but missed. Grabbed the Pop-R and threw it in there letting it sit with a couple of small twitches and then it was pulled under.

Lake Wilson Fishing - 5.5 lb largemouth while kayak fishing.
Lake Wilson Fishing – 5.5 lb largemouth while kayak fishing.

My full gear setup on the Zara Spook rod included 12 lb P-Line Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles, Dobyns crankbait rod and Fish Allure scented tab. For the Pop-R I had 10 lb P-Line Floroclear, Owner Stinger Trebles, Dobyns crankbait rod and my awesome Shimano Citica baitcast reel. Like always, I had my MTI life jacket on board and on my body – wear a life jacket!

Was tough that night with Lake Wilson Fishing, but this big bite made it worth the trip.

YUM Thumpn’ Dinger Scores at Night

First round of night fishing for the year and hit a jackpot with this FAT 21.25″ largemouth. Caught in transition from deep water to spawning areas by hopping the YUM Thumpn’ Dinger along the bottom.  Gear setup: 3/0 Owner Worm Hook, 1/4 oz Reins tungsten weight, 15 lb P-Line CSX, Dobyns worm rod, Shimano Citica reel.

Bass are moving up for spawn, caught this tank just after dark on a YUM Thumpn' Dinger rigged Texas style.
Bass are moving up for spawn, caught this tank just after dark on a YUM Thumpn’ Dinger rigged Texas style.

RTT Kickoff Classic Tournament Recap

This past weekend I competed in my first tournament of the season. The 2017 Razoryak Tournament Trail Kickoff Classic brought together the top kayak anglers from around the state of Arkansas for a three day online event open to fishing any public waters. This a brief recap of my 8th place finish out of 56 anglers.

First of all, congratulations to the top finishers:

  1. Dwain Batey – NSKA
  2. Rob Barnica – NSKA
  3. Terry Brown – KBA
  4. Scott Acord – KBA
  5. Justin Brewer – NSKA

The tournament was a bit disappointing to me because I felt like I had really dialed in Lake Swepco in Gentry, Arkansas, in recent weeks, catching a lot of quality fish. After a week of record high temperatures, a windy cold front moved in and turned everything upside down and I just couldn’t adjust well enough to be a top competitor. I also made some mistakes that cost me early on a couple of big fish.

Friday – Day 1

I hit Swepco on a day of very high winds and temps in the 40s steadily dropping into the 30s later in the day. Even with this, I stuck with my plan to start out with some topwater (Heddon Zara Spook) on this power plant lake and although it generated some bites, I lost the first six fish that I hooked, including a couple of large ones. It wasn’t the hooks, clearly something was off with my hookset and technique which was resulting in the bass pulling off. After this setback I was pretty dejected but remembering my pre-tournament plan I transitioned to a Norman Mad N crankbait and picked up a good sized and a mid-range keeper fairly quickly.  Later on l I hooked into an absolute monster (using a YUM Dinger) which I fought for what seemed like forever…until I pulled up a 4-5 lb catfish and I literally went on a verbal anti-catfish rant. Not wanting to give up, I stuck with this YUM Dinger approach and picked up a couple of keepers to add to my total but still only had one good sized bass. Now was the time of day where I was ready to go to my bread and butter approach with a Norman Deep N crankbait, which yielded me a 17″+ and 18″+ to round out my limit for the day, finishing with 77.25″ for day one where I was feeling pretty good in the standings until my buddy Dwain Batey submitted 90″+ that evening! For a great recap of his eventual tournament win, go give this a read. This pushed me down to 3rd for day one, which was good but I was frustrated about missed opportunities that day.

Saturday – Day Two

The cold front had really set in and temps were below or at freezing until late morning so I didn’t hit the water until around noon. As expected, nothing that worked for me on Friday was working today and I really scrambled to try and increase my limit total, trying all sorts of techniques. A pretty neat (but bittersweet) experience was sitting on the water within just a few feet of Rob Barnica as he was pulling in big fish after big fish. He was on fire with those bass and kept pulling in one after another…I believe I saw him catch four between 17″ and 21.5″ in about an hour. Although I was in the same place and throwing a very similar bait, they didn’t like my technique and didn’t bite for me. A big mistake I made on this day was spotting a big bass on a deep bed that was hard to get to, but I didn’t stay there and try to get it to bite. After putting in a bit of time on it I moved on not wanting to waste my day, in retrospect I should have stayed as long as it took since that one fish would have made my Saturday successful in upping my total. As it is, I only added a few inches and finished with 84″ on the day, culling with a couple of mid-size keepers that I caught on topwater again. (People say I’m addicted to topwater baits…)  At the end of day two I’d dropped to 5th place.

Sunday was the third day of the event, but after seeing the leaderboard after day two I could see that a win was no longer possible I decided to sit it out and spend some time at home. When the tournament ended I had fallen to 8th and finished in the top 10 which is a minimum goal for every event I enter.

A couple of equipment/setup keys I’d mention that I believe really helped in this event:

  • Was able to really give my new Shimano Citica 7:2:1 reel a workout as my main topwater and crankbait reel. It was smooth as silk and was really impressed with it.
  • As usual I used Fish Allure scented tabs on my hard baits which helped give me a good confidence boost, particularly on topwater baits.
  • Two of my keepers in my best five came on a crankbait I had never used before, but had ordered a Norman Mad N for this event to match some baitfish I’d been seeing shallow while prefishing – this definitely paid off.

All in all it was a good warm-up for the year which got me back into tournament mode and also let try out some new equipment and some new rod/reel setups under pressure.

Carolina Rigging for Trout in Arkansas

Rainbow Trout Caught on Carolina Rig at Lake Atalanta, Rogers Arkansas
Arkansas lake Rainbow Trout.

Fishing in Arkansas during January can be a hit or miss situation with the weather. One day it could be mild and in the 50s and the next day you may encounter sleet and ice and below freezing temperatures. One thing that you can count on is lake water temps dropping well into the low 40s and even the high 30s in some small lakes.

This is a great time of year to do some trout fishing in Northwest Arkansas, either in the White River tailwaters of Beaver or Table Rock lake or in some select clear water lakes in the area like Lake Atalanta in Rogers.

As primarily a bass fisherman I don’t own a fly rod, but you can use some bass techniques for some easy trout fishing. One of these techniques is to fish Carolina-style, but with a different and more finesse setup.

Owner Fishing Hooks - Mosquito size 8 Model 5177-031
Use size 8 or 6 hook.

One of the keys to making this work is to have a good quality sharp hook in the appropriate size. When using an egg-style floating bait, I’d select an Owner Mosquito Hook in size 8, or size 6 if you prefer. These Owner hooks are reliable and needle-sharp which is critical in a situation like this. They also have very small barbs that are easily pinched down depending on the waters you fish. If your local tackle store doesn’t carry these, you can find Owner Hooks on Tackle Warehouse.

Simply set up your rig by using a lightweight spinning rod and Shimano reel and attach a small swivel to a 4lb (try P-Line) leader with a small bullet weight and glass bead on the main line. Tie your Owner Mosquito hook to your leader, making it anywhere from 1 to 3 feet depending on water depth. Apply your floating bait egg

Close up of Owner hook in Rainbow Trout Caught on Carolina Rig at Lake Atalanta, Rogers Arkansas
The Owner Mosquito Hook in size 8 is the perfect small size for trout, but is needle sharp for a nice hookset.

on the hook, adjusting so just the tip of the hook is showing.

To fish it, simply toss it upstream in a current allowing it to then slowly bounce along back to you, taking up slack as it goes. This is a great system for fishing ponds or lakes with trout because you can either cast it out and leave it until you get a bite, or periodically move it a bit. The floating bait will look like a natural snack for the trout. Once you get a bite, the sharp Owner hook doesn’t require a strong hookset.

Give this technique a try the next time you want to try some trout fishing on a cold day. It’s an easy transition for a bass fisherman to find some success with trout.